Petitioner’s main contention is that the Court of Appeals erred in failing to consider that respondent’s actions of allowing the opening of fictitious accounts, facilitating the anomalous transactions of Wynster Chua, participating in the unauthorized lending activities of Wynster Chua, convincing bank clients to invest in the CNRI, and failing to report and stop such activities constituted serious misconduct, willful disobedience to the lawful orders of the employer in connection with his work, and gross and habitual neglect of his duties. Since the acts of respondent, according to petitioner, already constitute just causes for dismissal, petitioner asserts that respondent was legally dismissed and therefore not entitled to the monetary award in the assailed decision.
It should be noted that respondent’s alleged infractions are the same acts which had been declared by the Labor Arbiter—and affirmed by the NLRC and the Court of Appeals—as not constitutive of just cause for dismissal. According to the forums below, their uniform verdict of illegal dismissal is supported by substantial evidence.
More specifically, it was established that respondent did not allow the opening of a fictitious account since the account name John B.K. Chua was the Chinese name of Wynster Chua. The account was opened before respondent became the Branch Manager but was merely a cashier and in his capacity then he had no authority to approve new accounts. There was no proof that the account was used for any illegal purpose, the same having been used for payments of PLDT, electric and water bills of Wynster Chua. The account had also passed several auditing procedures by petitioner itself. Wynster Chua was even able to obtain an accommodation for bills purchase using said account. There was likewise no evidence that the interbranch transactions made by Wynster Chua to respondent’s account was for an illegal purpose or for Wynster Chua’s unauthorized lending activities. It was pointed out that the use by Wynster Chua of the name “John A.J. Jazal” in making such interbranch deposits does not translate to respondent’s facilitating alleged anomalous transactions. Respondent had no way of knowing that Wynster Chua used a different name in making interbranch deposits unless he was informed beforehand. In any case, no proof was presented that respondent knew that the deposits came from one John A.J. Jazal.
As to the charge that respondent actively participated in soliciting investors for the CNRI, in particular convincing Emilia Laño Borromeo to withdraw her money with petitioner bank and invest it in CNRI, this was belied by the Affidavit executed by Borromeo stating that she voluntarily withdrew her money with petitioner bank since it offered very low interest rates. Petitioner alleges that Borromeo had written a letter dated 16 June 2000 addressed to the bank demanding from the latter the payment or return of her deposit in the total sum of P4,100,000.00 which she placed with the CNRI as investment. However, the letter had not been admitted in evidence before the Labor Arbiter but was merely attached to petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration of the Labor Arbiter’s Decision. Said letter cannot prevail over the sworn statement, especially when the letter did not form part of the records of the case.
Petitioner could also not be held liable for failing to disclose and stop the lending activities of Wynster Chua and CNRI. CNRI had its principal office and operations at the Cebu North Road branch, while respondent was Branch Manager of the Ramos branch. The CNRI was outside respondent’s area of responsibility. It was also established that other credit union cooperatives existed and operated in other branches of the bank but the officers and employees responsible were not disciplined.
The petition seeks a reversal of the findings of facts of the forums below and raises issues the resolution of which involves a review of the evidence presented by both parties. The Court has repeatedly ruled that the findings of the Labor Arbiter, when affirmed by the NLRC and the Court of Appeals, are binding on the Supreme Court, unless patently erroneous. It is not the function of this Court to analyze or weigh all over again the evidence already considered in the proceedings below. The jurisdiction of this Court in a petition for review on certiorari is limited to reviewing only errors of law, not of fact, unless the factual findings being assailed are not supported by the evidence on record or the impugned judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts. Both exceptions are not present in the case at bar.
The Labor Arbiter had found that petitioner failed to observe due process in terminating respondent’s employment and on that basis awarded moral, exemplary, and nominal damages in addition to separation pay and backwages. On appeal, the NLRC in its Decision affirmed the Labor Arbiter’s findings that there was no just cause to dismiss respondent, extensively quoted with approval passages in the Labor Arbiter’s Decision concerning its finding about the absence of just cause. The NLRC no longer discussed whether due process had been observed by petitioner and instead proceeded to its determination of awards for other benefits prayed for by petitioner. However, the dispositive portion of the NLRC Decision deleted the awards for moral, exemplary, and nominal damages. The Court of Appeals, for its part, affirmed the finding that there was no compliance with the due process requirements in terminating respondent. The appellate court cited San Antonio v. NLRC as basis in saying that consultations and conferences, like the one conducted in this case, may not be valid substitutes for actual observance of notice and hearing.
This Court must disagree, however, with the determination that there was no due process in effecting respondent’s dismissal. In the dismissal of employees, it has been consistently held that the twin requirements of notice and hearing are essential elements of due process. The employer must furnish the worker with two written notices before termination of employment can be legally effected: (a) a notice apprising the employee of the particular acts or omissions for which his dismissal is sought, and (b) a subsequent notice informing the employee of the employer’s decision to dismiss him. With regard to the requirement of a hearing, the essence of due process lies simply in an opportunity to be heard, and not that an actual hearing should always and indispensably be held.
In the case at bar, petitioner appears to have complied with these requirements. Petitioner furnished respondent with a memorandum dated 16 January 1998 informing him that he had been found to have committed acts constituting serious misconduct and requiring him to explain why he should not be dismissed for cause for such acts. Respondent submitted his written explanation and later, petitioner set up a conference attended by respondent and other employees connected with the creation and operation of CNRI to give them further opportunity to be heard on the charges against them. Despite the explanations, petitioner still decided to dismiss respondent from the service and subsequently informed him of its decision through the Interoffice Letter dated 12 February 1998.
San Antonio v. NLRC may not be applied to the case at bar since it is not on all fours with the facts of the case. In San Antonio, after petitioner therein, in compliance with the company’s directive, had explained why he should not be disciplinarily dealt with, he received forthwith the company’s decision to dismiss him from employment. No hearing or a semblance thereof was conducted, unlike in the case at bar, where respondent’s written explanation was followed by a conference before petitioner’s final decision to terminate his employment.
Finding that petitioner had observed due process in terminating respondent’s employment, the award of moral, exemplary, and nominal damages has no basis and was correctly deleted in the decision of the NLRC as affirmed by the Court of Appeals.
We affirm the award of “other benefits” in the assailed Decision, since such benefits were included in the prayer in petitioner’s complaint as “bonuses and other benefits,” reiterated in his position paper as “all his lawful claims,” and in his other pleadings as “such other reliefs,” and respondent’s entitlement thereto had been duly proven.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is DENIED and the Decision dated 24 September 2002 and Resolution dated 20 January 2003 of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
SOURCE: [ G.R. NO. 157028, January 31, 2006 ]METROPOLITAN BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, PETITIONER, VS. LUIS B. BARRIENTOS, RESPONDENT. Tags: Alcantara Alcoy moral damages Alegria actual damages Aloguinsan Argao Asturias Badian Balamban Bantayan Barili Boljoon Borbon Carmen Catmon Compostela Consolacion Cordova Daanbantayan Dumaguete Bais Sibulan Tampi Bacong Negros Bacolod Separation pay Resign Resignation Back wages Backwages Length of service pay benefit employee employer relationship Silay Kabankalan Daan Bantayan Dalaguete Dumanjug Ginatilan Liloan compensatory damages Madridejos Malabuyoc Medellin Minglanilla Moalboal Oslob Pilar Pinamungajan Poro Ronda Samboan San Fernando San Francisco San Remigio Sante Fe Santander Sibonga Sogod Tabogon Tabuelan Tuburan attorney’s fees Tudela exemplary damages Camotes General Luna Siargao Cagayan Davao Kidapawan Attorney Abogado Lawyer Architect Real Estate Broker nominal damages Sales Agent Properties for Sale Looking for Buyers Design Build House and Lot for Sale for Rent Talisay City Mandaue City Lapu Lapu Lapu-Lapu City Yncierto Sesante Villanueva Ruz Jan Edmond Marc Tim Timothy temperate damages Luz liquidated damages Kristin tct transfer certificate of title tax declaration birth certificate relocation survey surveying judicial titling administrative titling patent title denr cenro foreshore lease ecc environmental compliance certificate design build architect cebu engineer interior design designer residential commercial cebu property warehouse for rent for lease marc Christian yncierto ruz jan Edmond yncierto ruz Kristin Villanueva ruz Edmond mabalot ruz marriage certificate timber land forest land watershed agricultural lot land use conversion hearing trial illegal drugs trial lawyer business corporate lawyer labor lawyer immigration law bureau of immigration cebu 9g visa search warrant warrant of arrest motion to quash information complaint police officers buy bust physical suffering shocked horrified mental anguish fright serious anxiety besmirched reputation sleepless nights wounded feelings moral shock social humiliation similar injuries